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Europe responsible for refugee abuses in Libya: Analyst

2 July 2016 18:00



Press TV has interviewed Kenneth Fero, lecturer at Coventry University in London, to discuss a report by Amnesty international about horrifying cases of violence, exploitation and sexual abuse against refugees who are trying to travel from Libya to Europe.

A rough transcription of the interview appears below.


Press TV: Some of these details are truly quite harrowing. How do you feel about this report?

Fero: They are harrowing and they are shocking but they are really shocking for somebody who could be living on the moon because obviously this is not the first report that we have had in terms of the abuse on migrants and refugees. It may be shocking to people in Europe who are not making themselves aware of the situation in Libya and across the Middle East.

The details of the report tell very horrifying acts committed against refugees and the situation, and the question I would like to ask is in terms of Libya what is going on there? This is very much focused on Libya, this report. The problem with Libya is obviously Europe prosecuted a war but it has not prosecuted the peace there and the destabilization of Libya has led to this situation.

Now in 2013 the British Prime Minister, current Prime Minister Cameron said that there was no real freedom, no real democracy, no real chance of prosperity without proper security. He made that speech on the steps of Martyrs Square to the Libyan people after what he called was liberation of the country. Now this country is one of the main thoroughfares for refugees and clearly they are in great danger. Now how do we solve this problem? We cannot rely on Europe to solve the problem but we can rely on Europe not to keep supporting these abuses that are going on by helping to stabilize the country.

Again the Prime Minister David Cameron when he was asked what his success would be of his premiership and clearly it is not the Brexit, he said that for him his happy place was thinking about Libya. Now Libya is not happy place to many, many people and Europe has a responsibility for that.

Press TV: So I wonder why doesn’t Europe take more responsibility for what is happening in places like Libya for example because as you said it got involved there very heavily militarily and then it just walked away, certainly it is feeling some of the blowback, I do not want to use the term blowback for refugees, but it is feeling the effects, isn’t it?

Fero: It is feeling the effects. I am not sure whether it has really walked away because we know that there are elements that are active – British military, US military, French military who are still active in Libya and we really do not know at the moment what they are doing there.

Europe talks about the freedom of movement and freedom of movement is a very common issue because of the political situation and the breakaway from Europe of Britain but freedom of movement that Europe wants apparently is not for refugees. So freedom of movement has to be for everybody and I think by preventing freedom of movement there is a creation of opportunities for criminal elements to exploit and abuse people and these things are connected.

The writer John Berger wrote a very interesting book called “Hold Everything Dear” in which she outlined what the connection was between a Somali person who becomes a refugee, who becomes a migrant, who is then abused, who becomes a worker, who may be exploited in Italy. So if you follow the life of one refugee, if you follow the death of one refugee, you can see how the connection is there in terms of people in Europe, countries in Europe who have been involved in all these struggles, in all these liberation movements in terms of suppressing them. So I think Europe is not totally responsible for the situation but it does bear a very, very heavy price.

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